Workshop Wednesday: How to Cut Glass Bottles

By Liz Young

It's time to stop putting off those glass bottle projects, because I'm about to show you the easiest, quickest, and most efficient way to get those bottles cut smoothly, and open up the doors of endless fun and possibility. No more wishing you could make some custom lighting for your game room or man cave. No more pinning a hundred upcycled glass bottle projects you saw on pinterest- it's time to start MAKING!

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Being able to cut glass bottles will not only allow you to create your own custom lighting, drinkware, candle holders, wind chimes, or anything your heart desires, but it's also an amazing way to recycle, and go GREEN. Bottles are so easy to come by, too. If you know anyone that works at a bar or restaurant, they can probably snag you hundreds of free bottles that would normally just be tossed out. For this project I did one larger decorative bottle, and some smaller but thicker imported beer bottles to show a variety of looks your projects can take on. Let's get started!

 

Materials Needed: 

Glass Bottles 

Glass bottle scoring tool

Sandpaper

Pot of very hot water

Pot or large container of ice water

2 spouted ladles (or coffee mugs) to safely pour onto bottle

Drop Cloth for workspace

Step  One: Put together your glass scoring tool. You can buy this tool (Diamond Tech G2 Bottle Cutter) from Hobby Lobby for less than $20 with their weekly coupon, or buy it online here. If you need a tutorial on how to put it together you can watch one here. If you've never used this tool, it can look a little odd, so just a little information before we begin:

About the tool: The purpose of the tool is to keep the scoring blade arm at a 90 degree angle, while stabilizing the bottle to ensure a straight line. The green triangular piece below goes into the bottle opening (left)

The straight metal piece on the bottom is for the bottle to press against as you rotate it.There is a piece on the bottom of your tool that slightly resembles a can-opener. This is the part that contains the scoring blade (right). Both of these pieces should stay parallel to each other at all times to ensure a straight line (bottom)

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Step Two: Now that you know a little about how the tool works, let's use it! Set the bottle standing upright. Decide where you want to cut your bottle. 

Step Three: Adjust the tool to your bottle's width. The height is going to depend on what you want to make. (For example, if you want to make a set of glasses, adjust tool to right below the neck.) Make sure you only loosen the wingnuts in the middle that are right at the 90 degree angle holding the two long arms together.

Step Four: Once you have the tool adjusted to your liking, insert the green triangular piece or "cork" into the opening, and keep the bottom of the bottle stable and upright on your work surface:

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Step Five: Holding the scoring tool in the other hand, apply slight pressure towards the glass, as you rotate the bottle in the opposite hand:  

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Note: Your score line should look like there is a hair on the glass, and should be one continuous line. You will hear the scratching sound if you are scoring correctly, however, don't go over and over the same spot, and don't press too hard. Experienced glass cutters say that if your line looks grainy, and salt-like, you've cut too deep. The reason for not cutting so deep is that glass is an easily stressed material. If you score it too much before the hot/cold shock, it will shatter and you won't get a clean, smooth break.

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Step Six: Prepare Water- Once you have fully rotated the bottle and have your thin score line, you are ready to cut your glass. Bring your pot of water to a boil, then turn off heat and let it sit for a few minutes. You don't need boiling water, just very hot. While your water sits, pour ice into your cold water container, just covering the surface.

Step Seven: Hold your bottle over the hot water container, and use a spouted ladle (or a coffee mug) to scoop water out and pour it onto your score line. You dont need to cover any large surface areas, just the area where the score line is. This helps prevent shattering and jagged edges.

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Step Eight: Now hold bottle over the ice bath, and using a different ladle or mug, pour water on score line. Repeat this process a couple times, until you hear a sound I describe as a "ping!"  Once you hear this, you should be able to see that your score line now looks dark and runs through the thickness of the glass. You've just cut your bottle! It doesn't usually shatter or separate on it's own using this method, which is safer and less messy.

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Step Nine: Hold your bottle over your dropcloth, pull the two ends apart, and there you have it, a perfectly cut bottle to start making awesome projects with!

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Step Ten: Sand your edges all down to make them smooth, and you're done! Now let those ideas start to flow!

I'll see you all next week for part two in this series, and you can find out what exactly I'm going to make with these cut bottles!

 

Feel free to comment or question below, and send us photos of your DIY projects, we'd love to see what you're making! 

 

Would you like to be featured on Houston Makerspace's blog? I write our Workshop Wednesday post every week, which features makers from the Houston community showcasing their talents in a how-to format. If you have a cool DIY project you'd like to share with the world, email me at: Liz@houstonmakerspace.com! Thank you!

Copyright Houston Makerspace, LLC 2013.  Background images by Marisa Brodie and Alex Barber.